This year, in an effort to lean in to the call of the Advent season, to really prepare my heart for the coming of the Lord, I am taking a blogging break. I hope you enjoy my reflections from last year.
I bought a Fisher Price nativity this Christmas Season. Juliet has been fascinated with the nativity on the entertainment center and Christian was getting a little tired of holding her up multiple times a day to see “those guys.” I buy almost nothing new for the girls, and even fewer toys, so this was a big deal at our house. When I found it waiting for me on our doorstep in the humble Amazon box, inspiration struck. I would wait until the girls went to bed, then put the batteries in and set it up just like the adult version, only on the floor where the girls could play with the figures. It would be magical! An early Christmas surprise, the idyllic miracle in Bethlehem.
I woke up the next morning to Priscilla yelling for me from her crib, and when I got downstairs, she had not managed to rouse her sister. I let Juliet sleep. Priscilla and I played on the couch and waited for Juliet to wake up. When I heard Juliet having a conversation between her two teddy bears, I slipped in to get her. “I have a surprise for you!” I told her. “We got a new toy!”
Juliet and I walked into the living room anticipating her surprise to see Priscilla in all of her glory. She was standing in the middle of the stable, the fence posts I snapped carefully on last night, snapped off. One in each hand. The wise men were slew all over the living room, and the angel that had once been stuck to the top of the scene was nowhere to be seen. A Godzilla sized toddler had taken over the Christmas story. She turned her head toward her sister and me, “Raaaawr!”
I have about a million things running through my head right now. I am flying out at 10 am tomorrow for my Grandfather’s funeral, and I get back three days before we leave again for Christmas. I don’t have the ornaments on the tree, the Christmas shopping done, the wrapping finished. I don’t even have the ingredients in the house for the baking I hoped to get done. Good luck getting the presents I have half wrapped out before we leave. If I start thinking about packing tonight for myself and then coming home to do it for my family I just freeze.
There is a lot of chaos around these parts. What will happen next? How will I manage? When does this train slow down? How long is this tunnel, and how close is the next one? Is there enough time for me to see the light of day?
I thought I had everything set up this December like the perfect Fisher Price nativity, complete with a singing manger and an angel on top. I turned around and there was this toddler gleefully running through my plans, pieces of the picture in each fist. Raaawr!
With hope, joy and love I think of the presence of something. With peace, I think of the absence of things. The absence of things gone awry, the absence of screaming and even any noise too loud, the absence of chaos. Peace lies in silence, in holiness, in a place where all is calm. And that isn’t my house anytime soon. I’ve never really been great at the whole quiet thing and my two loud children are a testament to that.
Does this mean I just have to wait on that piece of the promise God gives us? Is this candle for a time when the Fisher Price nativity is no longer a part of the requisite holiday decor? When these questions flood my mind I am reminded of Mary, in Bethlehem, having just given birth in a freaking stable….for God’s sake.
In her I am reminded that the chaos can be where the peace shows up. When the plans get deconstructed and the kids are too loud, when the things we thought we knew for sure crumble to dust in our hands, when the raging toddler of worry comes stomping into my head and tells me that I am not good enough unless the now impossible plans get miraculously finished, I am reminded of the chaos that Mary was thrown into. An unexpected pregnancy, a mandate to travel for miles, a less than ideal birth suite.
The chaos never really ended for her. A trip to Egypt, a return home later than usual, an oldest son rejected from his home town with rumors spreading that he was a crazy man, only to see him die an excruciating death on the cross. I’ve never fully considered the burden that Mary bore after those initial 9 months.
And yet she sits at the very beginning with the words of peace on her lips, Lord, let it be.
I am learning to pray that peaceful prayer, the one Mary answered her angel with. If I have to pack, let it be. If things do not go according to plan, let it be. When I am tired and worn and the kids are screaming for one more round of Jingle Bells, let it be.
I am learning to pray it in the hard places to, if this thing comes to nothing, let it be. If what you want for me is not what I thought, let it be. If I am mourning all through the Christmas break, and you sometimes take the things I love most, let it be.
May the Peace of Christ be with you. Especially in the midst of the chaos.